Thursday, June 19, 2008

Religioius leaders demand cancellation of offensive gay parade

Letter written by religious MKs, rabbis asks ministers to cancel parade or move it from Jerusalem's center to outskirts of city, far from religious centers, holy sites, eyes of children. 'Freedom of speech doesn't include abominable acts,' they say

The Shas Party and its chairman Eli Yishai, MK Uri Ariel (National Union-NRP), United Torah Judaism, and the leaders of the Rabbinate demanded on Thursday that the Pride Parade scheduled to take place in the capital next week be cancelled or transferred to an enclosed space on the city's outskirts.

A letter sent by Attorney Doron Shmueli to a number of government ministers said, "You are asked to order and act towards the cancellation of the 'Pride Parade' in the city of Jerusalem, or alternately you are asked to qualify its sexual content and not to allow the organizers of the event to do whatever they please. You are also asked to limit the parade to an enclosed area, to which entry will be prohibited to anyone under the age of 18."

The rabbis and religious MKs explained that "the acceptance of the parade as part of our lives does not oblige us not to defend ourselves against it or to defend those that require protection against it, especially children. The easy access to the sexual content of the parade exposes children to negative influences. The public interest is to defend the children." The letter further stated that "the unusual sights of the parade can do harm to the public order." Regarding freedom of speech, they claimed this right does not include "abominable acts".

Problematic location

The religious leaders also deemed the parade's location problematic. "The place designed to hold the parade is within close proximity of the Old City's walls and on the path leading to the Western Wall and the sites sacred to Christianity and the Islam.

Aside from this, the parade is scheduled to be held on a weekend, during which the ultra-Orthodox community tends to visit the Western Wall, a remnant of our holy temple. The holding of the parade as it has previously been seen on the path designated for it constitutes a heavy blow to public sensitivities, especially those of the Jewish (religious-Orthodox), Christian, and Muslim public residing within close proximity of the Old City."

The letter also dictates that the parade is to be banned from taking place "near religious neighborhoods, while exhibiting a lack of modesty harmful to religious sensitivities and beyond the limits of tolerance required for the remanding of freedom of expression and demonstration in our legal system."

The religious parties requested that the parade be moved to "a different place on the outskirts of the city and far from religious centers and underage bystanders, who are liable to be exposed to this wrongful content, and especially not to make use of public parks to which the public flocks during its free time."

Last year, despite last-minute efforts at cancellation, the Pride Parade was held in the center of Jerusalem with the participation of thousands of people. Meanwhile, the ultra-Orthodox community held a rally in which elegies were read. In November of 2006, the ultra-Orthodox community succeeded in its efforts and the parade was held inside a Jerusalem stadium.

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